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Creating a Custom LED Drop Using Kenny Net and LED Pixels

Rose Brand Kenny Net used for the LED Drop featuring 1,850 individually controlled LEDs

Take a look behind the scenes at how Jeremy Roth and his team made the LED backdrop and how it looked on stage:

Wilco, an alternative rock band, kicked off their 2016 Star Wars Tour in front of a custom made LED drop featuring 1,850 individually controlled LEDs, 10,000 zip ties, and 1/2 mile of interconnect cable all arranged on Rose Brand Kenny Net

The tour’s lighting design was driven by designer Jeremy Roth’s desire to combine 3D effects with LED lighting. “I had seen many other products and productions using flat LED screens or star drops, but not many that were able to use the depth of the stage to create multiple transparent layers with those products.”

Jeremy set out to find a material that could support thousands of LED emitters and cables while remaining transparent enough to allow for upstage layers of LED and lighting to be seen. The perfect material was critical to the execution of the design.

Jeremy looked at what he describes as “a myriad of samples” before choosing Kenny Net. “This was the first time I had worked with Kenny Net. The material had the perfect balance of strength and softness to hold the weight of the LEDs and wiring while still being able to be easily folded and stored in a hamper every night. The fact that it is IFR was icing on the cake.” The 1/2 grid of Kenny Net and its strong yet narrow gauge filament make it almost completely transparent when viewed from the audience.

The finished design shows itself in different ways depending on where viewers are seated. When you are up close or off to the side on the floor, you are looking up into the layers and the 3D nature is more pronounced while the LED content is more textural. The farther away you are from the stage, the flatter the image becomes and the LED content resolves more into the actual imagery that is being fed into it from the media server. Everyone is seeing the same show, but the experience takes on slightly different form and feeling depending on where you are seated. 

Jeremy has worked with Rose Brand materials on many projects in the past. He explains his approach to stage design, “I often rely on soft goods in my designs as the right materials can add lots of texture and volume to a show without taking up too much space on the truck. I love that Rose Brand has such a deep selection of materials.”

Behind the scenes photos of LED drop being fabricated by Stageworks Seattle. Final product in use during Wilco concert.

Fabrication by Stageworks Seattle (Jeremy Roth, Simon Clark, Melissa Brynn)

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